First Down for Religious Freedom

First Down for Religious Freedom

In the clash between football analyst Craig James and Fox Sports Southwest, score one for religious liberty! The former star and broadcaster, who was fired for his mainstream views on marriage after a single day on the job, is handing off to the Texas Workforce Commission. Yesterday, Craig's attorneys at Liberty Institute delivered the good news that the Commission is not only launching an investigation of the network -- but issued a formal charge of discrimination.

For the former running back, last September's controversy was a "sucker punch." "For someone to call you and offer you a job, praise your talents, your credentials, put you on the air the next day and fire you the following day -- that's like some kind of mean joke." As you might remember, Craig was sacked by the network because the company had concerns about pro-marriage comments he'd made during his Senate campaign 18 months before. Despite the fact that Craig never uttered a peep about his views from the sports desk, Fox executives felt compelled to give him the boot.

According to Sports Illustrated, the regional affiliate of Fox hired Craig without involving upper management. "Fox Sports executives were not happy with the hire by the regional network," sources explained. High level executives felt he hadn't been properly vetted (or, properly excluded, depending on how you look at it). The news rocked the football world -- and ultimately gave conservatives one of the highest profile examples of religious hostility yet. When the news broke last fall, a Fox Sports spokesman tried to explain away the network's religious profiling. "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."

The first question Fox should have to answer is "why not?" Since when did a pro-redefinition of natural marriage become the only acceptable and protected view? But the more outrageous aspect is that Craig didn't say those words there -- or anywhere in his commentating capacity. He stated his position as a candidate for public office -- in response to legitimate voter questions. To suggest that having an opinion on cultural issues disqualifies you from breaking down football plays is outrageous -- especially when that opinion is shared by the majority of viewers! Obviously, Craig James's ousting had nothing to do with his job performance -- and everything to do with this new climate of Christian persecution.

On Thursday, after the Commission announced its next move, Fox Sports Southwest took a decidedly more defiant approach. It softened its tone after last year's scandal, but now a spokesman insisted in the wake of the new developments that "Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community, and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda."

While liberals cry foul over every perceived slight, conservatives are actually losing their livelihoods for exercising a right the Constitution protects. Yet the media, who rushes to the scene of every "inequality" non-incident, can't be troubled to cover the real victims of the Left's marriage agenda: the broadcasters, bakers, florists, administrators, students, servicemen, and business owners. Fortunately for them, Craig knows that losing one job made room for another: raising awareness about the threat to our First Freedom. "I'm not out of the public eye. I am serving a role to get people to be aware of the real fight that we have." Hear the latest on that fight with Craig James himself and his attorney at Liberty Institute, Hiram Sasser, who stopped by yesterday's "Washington Watch" radio show.

En-"gender"-ing New Law Would Endanger Liberty

FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg testified Wednesday against a Maryland bill that would make people who identify as "transgendered" a protected class in employment and public accommodations laws. A similar bill has already passed the Maryland Senate. Opposing House Bill 1265 before a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates, he challenged the idea that a blanket policy of "non-discrimination" represents a fundamental moral or legal value:

I would submit to you that liberty and "non-discrimination" are not equally important values. In our country, liberty is the fundamental value that towers above almost all others, exceeded only by life itself.

Does that mean that we should allow any form of "discrimination" in the name of liberty? No -- but it does mean that "non-discrimination" laws (in which the coercive power of the government is brought to bear against the freedom of the individual business owner) should represent only the narrowest and most limited possible exception to the principle of liberty.

He said that while centuries of slavery and segregation justified passing laws to bar "discrimination" based on race, "Few other categories meet that standard, and this one -- gender identity -- does not." In conclusion, he asked the Delegates to "give us liberty -- and keep the Free State free."

Be INSPired to DIRECT Action

FRC has long been an advocate for good programming on the nation's airwaves. As we've noted elsewhere, "Television programs are transmitted over 'public' airwaves that belong to the American people. Consequently, Family Research Council strongly supports the public's right to make the airwaves suitable for viewing and listening." That's why we're encouraging you to urge DIRECTV to put the Inspiration Network (INSP) back on the air. INSP is a family-friendly station that carries programming designed to strengthen the traditional family. It is a welcome alternative to the fare offered by many other broadcast outlets, and has long been carried by DIRECTV at no cost. Of the channels it carries, DIRECTV pays a monthly license fee to 90 percent of them to broadcast their programming. However, according to the A.C. Nielsen ratings firm, even though INSP has a viewership that is roughly 50 percent higher than the networks DIRECTV carries, DIRECTV has now cut INSP from their programming. Let me urge you to write a courteous note to DIRECTV President Michael White. Ask him to restore INSP to his lineup. You can reach him by writing:

Mr. Michael D. White
Chairman, CEO, and President
2230 East Imperial Highway
El Segundo, CA 90245

Family programming is worth fighting for. Please make your voice heard today.

** If you're in the Los Angeles area, join us for Sunday worship at Calvary Chapel South Bay (19300 South Vermont Avenue, Torrance, CA) this weekend. I'll be delivering the message at the 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. services.

*** Don't miss the new op-ed by FRC's new Director for the Center of Human Dignity, Arina Grossu, in the Daily Caller, "Fetal Laws and the Logical Inconsistency of Abortion." Also, check out Arina's take on the study out today on free birth control and risky sex in USA Today here.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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